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Journal Article

Wind variability over the Caspian Sea, its impact on Caspian seawater level and link with ENSO


Arpe,  Klaus
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Arpe, K., Molavi-Arabshahi, M., & Leroy, S. (2020). Wind variability over the Caspian Sea, its impact on Caspian seawater level and link with ENSO. International Journal of Climatology, 40, 6039-6054. doi:10.1002/joc.6564.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-42FF-1
Newly available time series of 10-m winds over last 60 years in the South Caspian Sea (CS) region show a remarkable shift in wind speed in 1995, that is also the year of maximum elevation of the Caspian Sea level (CSL). Our aim is to find the mechanisms linking these two features. This change is not only seen in the wind observations along the Southern CS coast, but also in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis covering the Southern CS, leading there to an increase of evaporation after 1995. Due to wind increase, evaporation increases but does not lead to enhanced precipitation over the CS catchment area, the water seems to be lost to the east of the drainage basin for the water budget of the CS after 1995. This stopped the CSL rise and caused its post-1995 fall. The connection between the wind speed and the trend of the CSL can also be seen for the 1977 low stand. Before 1977, the CSL was slightly dropping with relatively strong wind, then the wind speed fell and the CSL started to rise. The change of the wind seems to be induced by a teleconnection from El Niño-Southern oscillation (ENSO). It is shown that ENSO impact is much stronger than that of North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), not only for the change of the CSL, but also for several key components of the CS water budget, like the Volga river discharge and wind speed. The wind speed is induced by ENSO, which is demonstrated by a shift of the jet stream over the CS area. This could be an explanative link between ENSO and CSL variability, but still needs further understanding. The NAO has a similar impact but to a lesser degree. When NAO and ENSO are working in the same direction, the CSL change is enhanced like from 1990 to 1995. © 2020 Royal Meteorological Society